Dee is one of America's finest actors and has paved the way for many of our country's African American artists. The level of excellence that she and her husband Ossie Davis gave to some of Spike Lee's films is phenomenal.
I respect her not only for her great acting abilities, but also for her work as an activist, and her great teaching talents. She taught me and I will never forget the lessons I learned from her.
Check out what I wrote about Ms. Dee in my personal essay titled "Listening to Nina Simone," which first appeared in The Writers Loft magazine called The Trunk:
I took a solo performance class with Ruby Dee at Hunter College in New York City. From her I learned to always have a purpose when performing or creating any type of artistic project. Ms. Dee screamed at me when I was rehearsing a piece for an upcoming show. “Speak the words!” she said. She was telling me to give it all I had. I’ve been trying to do that ever since. And I’ve got nothin’ but love for her husband, the late Ossie Davis, who would lovingly fill in for his wife and teach her class when she had other engagements. His advice about performing and the arts was always as solid as hers.Also, read a Variety magazine article about Dee here.
Here are two interesting answers that Dee gave to the reporter:
What's your favorite film? A Raisin in the Sun
(This is, of course, one of the film's that Dee herself helped to make golden.)
What do you want in a director? "I'm an actor who appreciates direction. I respect the fact that a director has studied the text and the road map of work before us, the subtleties, interconnections, underpinnings. ... His job is to paint the entire picture and knows all the colors that have to be in it."
Here's this master actress playing one of the best roles she had in Jungle Fever, as the mother of Gator, a strung out crack addict. As always, when she and her husband Ossie worked together, it was always a joy to behold.